The buzz around Tesla’s charging standard has been making waves, and not everyone is on board. Lucid Group’s CEO Peter Rawlinson, previously involved in Tesla’s Model S design, is raising questions. While Tesla is urging other automakers to adopt their charging standard, Rawlinson asks, “It’s just a plug.”
This sentiment was echoed by Cowen analyst Gabriel Daoud when General Motors Co. followed Ford Motor Co. in switching to Tesla’s system. Investors are enthusiastically comparing Tesla’s charging business to Amazon Web Services, an $80 billion enterprise.
Rawlinson, however, scrutinizes the hubbub over Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS). He reportedly likens the controversy to a debate between a cork and a screw cap, stressing it’s the ‘quality of the wine’ that matters.
Critics might accuse Rawlinson of bias against Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk, yet he acknowledges Tesla’s Supercharger network’s reliability. He doesn’t exclude the possibility of Lucid shifting to NACS, but it would need to be on acceptable terms.
Rawlinson warns manufacturers rushing to adopt the yet-to-be-standardized connector, stating, “If you’ve got the most advanced technology in the world, you’re a bit reluctant to risk that.”
One key concern is whether NACS is genuinely open. It refers to the leaner connectors and ports used by Tesla customers, contrasted with the larger Combined Charging System (CCS) plugs. While Tesla has touted NACS as “purely [an] electrical and mechanical interface,” Rawlinson questions its openness.
This debate isn’t just about connectors; it’s about data. The charging connector’s controller could access vast consumer data, from credit card info to battery charging frequency and driving cycles.
Rawlinson is concerned about data ownership, stating, “Whoever controls this…has access to a lot of consumer data. It’s who owns that data, and making it genuinely open-sourced, that would worry me.”
Furthermore, Rawlinson challenges the hype over Tesla’s charging deals and suggests focusing on slower overnight charging, benefiting apartment dwellers and the environment. He reasons, “The best thing for the environment is to have the power stations running more evenly on a 24-hour cycle.”
President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $7.5 billion for EV charging. The stipulation is that federally funded fast chargers include CCS connectors.
Ultimately, Rawlinson emphasizes, “What matters is that there is a standard that everyone can use, that it’s an open standard, and given there is taxpayer money involved, that it’s future-proof and reliable.”
Photo courtesy of Lucid.